Now that the draft signing deadline has come and gone, we can take a second to step back and try to figure out where all the new guys fit in. I’ve always believed that if you draft & sign a guy and he instantly becomes your top prospect, you either a) landed an absolute stud, or b) have a bad system. More often then not, it’s the latter. Thankfully the Yanks aren’t in that position, although first rounder Slade Heathcott still slides comfortably into the team’s top five prospects.
For the sake of comparison, you can find my predraft list here and my preseason list here. Phil Coke and David Robertson have since graduated to the majors, hence their exclusion. So without further ado …
- Jesus Montero, C – out for the year with a broken finger, but a .406 wOBP and a .222 IsoP in AA as a 19-yr is as good as it gets
- Austin Jackson, CF – hard to believe he’s still only 22, but more power and/or fewer strikeouts would be nice
- Austin Romine, C – constant improvement in every aspect of the game, there’s a whole lot to like here
- Slade Heathcott, CF – toolsy outfielder has enormous upside, but for now he’s behind Romine because he hasn’t done anything yet
- Zach McAllister, RHP – rock solid, doesn’t wow you … should contribute next year, but also doubles as Grade-B trade bait
- Arodys Vizcaino, RHP – top notch stuff but slowed by a recent back injury … big upside
- Mark Melancon, RHP – everything is there, just needs an extended chance
- Manny Banuelos, LHP – Futures Gamer relies on polish and command rather than sheer stuff
- Ivan Nova, RHP – after what seems like an eternity of waiting, it finally clicked this year
- Andrew Brackman, RHP – well, he made every start and stayed healthy all year … that’s a positive
- Jeremy Bleich, LHP – not performing in AA yet, but polished lefty should be a cheap back-end option sometime next year
- Dellin Betances, RHP – more injuries, more walks … still dreaming on upside here
- Mike Dunn, LHP – super high strikeout lefty just needs to limit his walks … a nastier version of Phil Coke
- Graham Stoneburner, RHP – pounds the zone with three average or better pitches & is allergic to homers
- Kelvin DeLeon, OF – gobs of talent and gobs of strikeouts, but has big time power potential
- JR Murphy, C – raw hitting ability and defensive skills are there; needs experience and refinement, though
- Frankie Cervelli, C – big league ready backup catcher … all that needs to be said
- Jairo Heredia, RHP – missed most of the season with some kind of arm injury, but has rebounded well
- Adam Warren, RHP - polished, pounds the zone, sits low-90′s and has touched 96 with SI … pleasant surprise
- Bradley Suttle, 3B – out all year with a shoulder problem, but he can flat out rake when healthy
- Wilkins DeLaRosa, LHP – similar to Dunn, but less breaking ball
- DJ Mitchell, RHP – annihilates RHB but gets crushed by LHB, needs to improve that changeup to avoid ROOGY status … Gaudin 2.0?
- David Adams, 2B – bat control guy with gap power & good on-base skills … I’m a fan
- Brett Marshall, RHP – out with TJ surgery, but a big arm that was holding his own as a teenager in full season ball
- Dan Brewer, RF – he’s a hitting savant … mashes lefties, righties, fastballs, breaking balls, pitches down, pitches up, you name it
- George Kontos, RHP – out with TJ surgery, but was doing well in AAA prior to the injury and on the cusp of the big leagues
- Kyle Higashioka, C – impressive all-around package behind the plate, but a million miles away
- Kevin Russo, IF – super high OBP guy can play a ton of positions, he’ll be the backup infielder’s backup next year
- Gavin Brooks, LHP – huge arm from the left side could move fast as a reliever, but might get another crack at starting
- Corban Joseph, 2B – he can hit, but he can’t do much more than that
Damon Sublett, Matt Richardson, and Nik Turley were pushed out when Heathcott, Murphy, and Stoneburner signed. I’m generally hard on international signees (I want to see them do something, anything, in the States before I buy into the hype), so Gary Sanchez fell well short of the list. I’m a big Graham Stoneburner fan, but I’ll admit I was aggressive in ranking him. Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt me like Carmen Angelini did back in 2007.
Obviously major injuries to George Kontos, Chris Garcia, Bradley Suttle, and Brett Marshall affected their rankings greatly. Ivan Nova always had the stuff and projection, but never the polish to earn a high ranking. His breakout with Double-A Trenton vaults him up the list. Remember that the middle of the list is very fungible, I could have easily had someone like DJ Mitchell sitting just outside the top ten. It’s just preference, and this is how it shook out given my mood at the time.
So go ahead, file your complaints in the comments.
I really hope the kid makes it to the big leagues. It would be so awesome.
For four out of five days, the Yankees’ starters have been among the best in the game. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte have combined to go 41-22 this season with a collective 3.81 ERA. In 606.1 innings, the quartet has allowed 564 hits and 238 walks while striking out 497. The WHIP of 1.32 is a little on the high side, but the K/9 of 7.38 is stellar. This Big Four are primed for an October run.
The other guy — that much-maligned fifth starter — hasn’t been nearly as good. The Yankees have tried Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre in the role. Chad Gaudin will make his fifth starter debut later today. As a group, the Yanks’ fifth starters are 6-9 with a 7.79 ERA. In just over 100 innings — that’s 4.1 IP per start — these pitchers have given up 143 hits, and their WHIP clocks in at 1.83. It has been a constant struggle to find a fifth starter, to say the least.
Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal dropped a bullet point on the Yanks’ hunt for a fifth starter. He wrote:
The Yankees inquired about Reds right-handers Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, but backed off when the Reds said they would not include any money in a deal. While the Yankees remain active in their pursuit of a starter, they likely will stand pat and await the benefit of the roster expansions on Sept. 1.
We’ve assessed both Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo when the Yanks nearly acquired him prior to the July 31st trade deadline. There is no need to get into their pluses and overwhelming minuses right now.
Instead, I’d like to ask yet again why the Yankees are continuing to overlook the most obvious answer to their fifth starter problems: Phil Hughes.
Earlier this year, the Yankees tried Phil Hughes in the rotation. He went 3-2 with a 5.45 ERA. In 34.6 innings, he allowed 37 hits and struck out 31. He had one awful start against the Orioles and one very good start. His other five starts were inconsistent, exactly what you would expect from a young starter with great stuff but not enough Major League experience. Prior to Chien-Ming Wang’s comeback, Hughes had seemed to turn a corner, and the Yankees kept him around.
At first, Hughes shadowed Wang, and he really seemed to excel out of the pen. He was throwing harder and was attacking the zone more than he had as a starter. With the Bridge to Mariano unsettled, the Yankees fell in love with Phil Hughes in the 8th inning. He was as lights out as Joba was in 2007, and all of a sudden, Phil Hughes the starter morphed into Phil Hughes the lockdown reliever.
Since the move to the bullpen, Hughes’ innings totals have been meager. He threw just 13 innings in June and 14 innings in July. This month — 18 days through August — Hughes has thrown just 5.2 innings. For comparison’s sake, Sergio Mitre has thrown 14.2 unspectacular innings this month. The 8th inning does not matter more.
On the season, between the Majors and Minors, Hughes has thrown just 87.1 innings, and at this rate with his current usage patterns, he won’t reach more than 105-110 in the regular season. Next year, as a starter, Hughes will be limited to around 150-160 innings. If this sounds like Joba Chamberlain, well, that’s because it is.
With their win last night, the Yankees are 75-45. They have a seven-game lead with 42 left to play, and while it ain’t over ’til it’s over, it’s getting awfully close. The Yanks could stretch Phil Hughes out, give him a few starts, build up his innings and then move him back into the bullpen for the playoffs. The future would thank them, and it would give the Yankees a better solution to the fifth — and fourth — starter issue than Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin will.
Last night we saw from the Yankees what we’ve seen from them, for the most part, since the All-Star Break: solid pitching and a hit barrage. They slipped for a couple of days, but over a 162-game season, what team won’t? Seemingly unfazed by two straight losses, the Yanks came up with a big inning to complement CC Sabathia‘s mostly dominant start and took the second game of the series, 7-2.
After said two straight losses, the first inning was not a welcome sight. After Vin Mazzaro beaned A-Rod and issued a five-pitch walk to Hideki Matsui, the Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs. Jorge Posada worked a 2-2 count, but struck out on a ball way out of the zone. It was another opportunity wasted, the second such by Posada in two nights — Monday night he went down looking with runners on first and second with two outs.
Still, the Yanks had to feel good with their ace on the hill. Things looked great through the first two batters: a strike out and a pop out. But when CC threw behind Kurt Suzuki — and considering CC’s command last night, it was pretty clearly in retaliation for the A-Rod beaning — the catcher responded like any hitters wants to, by homering. Same thing happened in the second, minus the purpose pitch. After striking out the first two batters of the inning, CC gave up a homer to Tommy Everidge. Of course, he then came back to strike out Ryan Sweeney to end the frame.
The A’s wouldn’t get anything off Sabathia the rest of the night. There was some trouble in the fourth when the A’s put runners on second and third with one out, but CC kept them off the board. Scott Hairston probably could have scored on Mark Ellis’s liner to Nick Swisher, but Swisher was charging, and a good throw would have nailed him. The actual throw was up the line, but unfortunately for Hairston human beings do not possess clairvoyant foresight.
After that point the A’s managed just one more baserunner off Sabathia. For some reason, he threw Ryan Sweeney a belt high fastball around the middle of the plate. The slider had been working so well against Sweeney, especially when combined with fastballs out of the zone. Still, if that’s the biggest complaint among his final four innings, well, then there’s nothing to complain about at all. CC turned in a mighty fine start, just what the Yanks needed to stop this mini skid.
One final line on Sabathia. He threw 94 pitches, 66 for strikes, but four balls were intentional. So, in terms of him actually squaring off with a batter, he threw 90 pitches, 66 strikes. That’s pretty insane.
On the offensive side, the Yanks chipped away. Down 1-0 in the second, Melky Cabrera doubled with two outs, and then scored when a Derek Jeter grounder scooted through Adam Kennedy’s legs. In the third A-Rod led off with a single, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a grounder to third, and scored on Jorge’s ground rule double. Things were starting to look up after two games of general offensive futility.
Then, shades of Monday in the fourth. With the bases juiced and one out, Mark Teixeira stepped to the plate. Monday night it was Teixeira who walked on five pitches to load the bases with one out. Last night it was Damon. Monday night it was A-Rod who swung at the first pitch. Last night it was Teixeira. Same result: double play. It doesn’t get more frustrating for that.
Thankfully, their luck changed in the sixth when Vin Mazzaro left the game due to a high pitch count. It was old school Yankees. They don’t necessarily rack up the score against the starter, but they have good at bats and wear him down. Through five Mazzaro had thrown 103 pitches. The bullpen would have to pick him up, and it was apparent from the beginning that they would not.
It’s too bad that Robinson Cano swung at the first pitch he saw from Jay Marshall, because he ended up being quite wild. He threw 13 pitches, just six for strikes, and four of those strikes were balls in play. Damon knocked him out with a run-scoring double, leaving him with a line of 0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 HBP. Santiago Casilla didn’t help matters, walking Mark Teixeira on four pitches, and then the same to A-Rod, which scored a run.
The Yanks tacked on a couple more after that, all but sealing their victory. David Robertson made things a little interesting in the ninth, walking the first two batters on eight pitches. If only he’d done the same to Mark Ellis, we would have had a Harry Doyle moment. Instead he struck out the next two batters and got a fly out to end the game.
Rubber game tomorrow, Chad Gaudin against Brett Anderson. WIth Burnett and CC going eight innings on back to back nights, the pen is pretty well rested. They’ll have a day off on Thursday before a series in Boston, so I’d expect to see Hughes, Bruney, and Aceves get an inning tomorrow, regardless of score. Thankfully it’s the last 10:00 start for a few weeks.
Photo credit: Ben Margot/Associated Press
Hooray for offense.
Two years ago today on DotF, Matt Carson homered for the second consecutive day to give Double-A Trenton it’s second consecutive 1-0 win.
Triple-A Scranton (10-5 win over Lehigh Valley)
Kevin Russo & John Rodriguez: both 1 for 3 – Russo walked twice & scored a run … J-Rod walked & K’ed
Colin Curtis: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 RBI
Austin Jackson: 1 for 5, 1 R, 2 K
Shelley Duncan: 3 for 5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI - SHELLEY SMASH!!!
Juan Miranda: 1 for 4 R, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Yurendell DeCaster: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI
Reegie Corona: 2 for 2, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 E (throwing)
Jason Hirsh: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 5-4 GB/FB – 58 of 88 pitches were strikes (65.9%)
Zach Kroenke: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4-0 GB/FB – 16 of 22 pitches were strikes (72.7%)
Anthony Claggett: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 5-2 GB/FB – 21 of 37 pitches were strikes (56.8%)
Amaury Sanit: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 8 of 9 pitches were strikes (88.9%)
You’re killin’ me Georgie…
So the Yankees have scored just three runs over their last two games, all coming in Sunday’s contest against Seattle. I was on a flight, and then in transit to a hotel, during most of yesterday’s game, but it seemed like they couldn’t get much going after A-Rod‘s double play — until the eighth that is, when Jorge struck out looking. I’m not sure what the game looked like, but Gameday said the ump was beyond atrocious. They’ll try to recover today by putting out their A-lineup, and that includes Hideki Matsui back in the DH spot.
Taking the bump for the A’s is Hackensack native Vin Mazzaro. Then again, with that name mentioning that he’s from Jersey is redundant. Recalled for a start on June 2, Mazzaro started off his career with a bang, tossing 13.2 scoreless innings over two starts, blanking the White Sox and the Orioles. Things got a bit tougher for him from then on, his ERA gradually climbing to 5.54. Somewhere in there the Yanks roughed him up for six runs in 4.1 innings while his high school buddies looked on from the upper deck.
Since then Vin has started four games, including two horrible ones against the Red Sox and Blue Jays. He allowed 19 runs, 18 earned, over 21.1 innings in that span, and opposing hitters have had a 1.008 OPS against him. Essentially, the average hitter against him over his last four starts has been Prince Fielder. Average. Or, if you want to play it another way, it would be like facing half Albert Pujols, half Ryan Braun.
Beware the reverse lock, thought. It cursed the Yanks last night against Brett Tomko and the A’s bullpen. Thankfully, they’re not taking Mazzaro lightly, considering the lineup.
And on the mound, number fifty-two, Carsten Charles Sabathia.
By now you’ve all heard and read about this silly little debate pitting the Yankee beatwriters against the rest of the free world, something that originally started out as a disagreement over UZR but has since evolved into a full blown MVP debate. Anybody who’s anybody has chimed in, including Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, and about a million others. Since we’re always fashionably late to these kinds of things, it’s time for us to chime in. Actually, no. It’s time for you guys to chime in.
We’re going to limit this little debate to Joe Mauer and Mark Teixeira since they’re the two most mentioned names, but don’t be mistaken, there are certainly plenty of other legit MVP candidates out there. Let’s look at some of the facts…
Pros: tied for fourth in the league with a .941 OPS … second in the league with 30 homers … third in the league with 86 RBI … late inning heroics (13 homers in innings 7+) … outstanding defense at first … arguably the best player on the best team in the league
Cons: hit just .191-.328-.418 through the team’s first 32 games … significant home-road split (1.031 OPS at home, .853 on the road) … just fifth among first baseman with a 3.9 WAR
Pros: leads the AL in AVG (.380), OBP (.446), SLG (.637) and OPS (1.083) … hitting .403-.490-.727 with RISP … outstanding defense behind the dish … tie with Albert Pujols for the league league in WAR (6.2)
Cons: missed his team’s first 23 games due to injury … plays for a team 6.5 games out of a playoff spot
That’s obviously just some of the data, but enough to get a conversation started. Whether you’re an old school batting average and RBI guy or a new schooler who digs positional value and stuff like that, this isn’t such a cut and dry debate. So … who ya got?
* * *
Here’s your open thread for the night. The Mets and Braves are playing, but there doesn’t appear to be any games on the national networks. I hate west coast games. Anything goes here, just be nice.
One thing that’s become apparent over the course of this season: the Yanks are built for their home ballpark. Among their nine regulars they have just two righties. The rest are lefties or switch-hitters. Since the majority of pitchers are righties, that means the Yankees bat from the left side of the plate more often than not, which gives them a nice, short shot at the right field fence. This has led Pat Andriola of The Hardball Times to wonder whether the Yanks hitters are trying to put the ball in the air. Unsurprisingly, some players are experiencing the highest flyball rates of their careers: Mark Teixeira, Johnny Damon, and Jorge Posada, while Hideki Matsui is in the midst of his second highest rate season.
Is that necessarily good, though? Sure, Tex is just three homers behind his total from 2008 and is at his total from 2007, but it has come at a cost. Ground balls go for hits more often than fly balls, which has led Teixeira’s BABIP to fall to .289, the lowest of his career. Ditto his line drive rate, at 16.6 percent, and his batting average with runners in scoring position, .268. It’s also led to a high number of infield flies.
Also, Tex’s fly balls aren’t getting out at a greater rate. He has a 17.2 percent home run per fly ball ratio, which is at or below most of his previous years. It would make sense to swing for the fences more if the fly balls were going out at a greater rate, but they’re not. Then again, it’s tough to complain about Tex’s season at all right now. Maybe he’d be better off leveling his swing as in the past, but we just can’t know that. What we do know is that he’s battering the ball at Yankee Stadium.
Strangely, Swisher is not hitting more fly balls this year. In fact, it doesn’t look like he’s tailoring his swing to the new Stadium at all — or if he is, then it’s not working. Hey, maybe that explains his poor home splits. If he’s trying to put the ball over the short porch and is failing, well, that might explain his .206 BA and .323 SLG at home.
It’s an interesting thought, though. Considering how well the Yanks have played at home this season, it would seem to be working, if in fact that’s the case.